The way in which Syracuse’s first trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium will stick with Syracuse fans for quite some time, with a charge called on C.J. Fair resulting in an apoplectic Jim Boeheim getting ejected from the game. And that’s fine. But if people are going to talk about what cost the Orange on Saturday night, that disputed call shouldn’t be the focus of their angst.
What should be the focus is how much the starting backcourt of Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney struggled offensively, with that making the difference between a close win and the close 66-60 defeat the Orange ended up suffering.
Ennis and Cooney combined to score 13 points on 3-for-18 shooting from the field, with the freshman point guard making just two of his 13 shot attempts. With Syracuse’s lack of depth, as they played just seven players against Duke, they can ill afford such nights from two players expected to provide contributions on the perimeter. In regards to Ennis, Duke did a good job of defending him especially in ball screen situations.
In many of those spots the Blue Devils blitzed Ennis, looking to both limit his vision and keep him from turning the corner and the move was successful for much of the evening. Ennis dished out six assists and turned the ball over just twice, but he wasn’t as effective as he’s been for much of the season.
Yet from a scoring standpoint Cooney may be the bigger concern for Syracuse moving forward, as he’s been relatively quiet since going off for 33 points in a win over Notre Dame on February 3.
Against the Fighting Irish the sophomore made 11 of his 15 attempts from the field. Since then Cooney’s shooting just 31.7% from the field (13-for-41) and 30% (9-for-30) from beyond the arc. Both of those numbers are well below his percentages for the season to date (43.8% FG, 41.4% 3PT), and this is something that needs to change if the Orange are to win the ACC regular season title.
Jerami Grant (17 points, eight rebounds) and C.J. Fair (12 and seven) combined to score 29 points and Mike Gbinije added eight points off the bench, resulting in Syracuse still have a chance to win in the game’s final minute. But they couldn’t get over the hump, and while the popular thing to do may be to blame the charge call the shooting of starting their guards didn’t help matters either.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.
No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.
Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.
But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.
It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:
After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”: